Two years to the month after launching its large podcast search and listening site, Yahoo! has announced that Yahoo! Podcasts will cease operation on Halloween, October 31st. The site never came out of Beta before the plug was pulled. There's not much information available beyond an underlined non-link now at the top of the site reading "Yahoo! apologizes deeply, but we will be closing down the Podcasts site on Oct. 31, 2007."

Some would argue that podcasting hasn't caught on like it was expected to, that it's been dominated by existing media giants and beaten as a medium by the rise of video. I still love me a good episode from ITConversations, Briefings Direct or our own new show Read/WriteTalk when I'm walking the dog - but Yahoo! users looking for podcasts will soon have to look elsewhere. I don't know how many people ever cared for the site anyway. I hadn't looked at Yahoo! Podcasts since just a few months after it launched, when there were no RSS feeds and you had to login with a Yahoo! ID in order to download audio files instead of listening to them through a pop-up Yahoo! audio player.

The exact date of the closure seems to have fluctuated a bit already, but whenever it happens there are plenty of competitors ready to give podcast search outside of iTunes a go for themselves. See, for example, Podcast.com (from whose Tweets I found this news) and the recently funded Pluggd, who are doing some interesting speech-to-text technology for both audio and video and licensing it out to other media companies.